This nasty is found in loads and loads of foods and exercise performance enhancements. It is a white, granular or crystalline solid, highly soluble in water producing an alkaline solution. TSPs are used as cleaning agent, lubricant, food additive, stain remover, degreaser and flux (soldering solvent)
Now this must not be confused with another even more nasty food additive (which McDonalds is famous for) . . .
Sodium triphosphate or E451
Remember that name E451 and find it on the ingredients of your popular meat and food products. The majority of STPP is consumed as a component of commercial detergent. It serves as a “builder,” industrial jargon for a water softener. However it also gets used in a major way as a preservative for seafood, meats, poultry, and animal feeds. It is common in food production as E number E451. In foods, STPP is used as an emulsifier and to retain moisture. (McDonalds are the largest consumer for this) Many governments regulate the quantities allowed in foods, as it can substantially increase the sale weight of seafood in particular.
The United States Food and Drug Administration lists TSP and STPP as “generally recognised as safe.”. (Same folks who say its safe to be injected with mercury, consume roundup pesticides, have arsenic added to chicken feed)
In the year 2000, the worldwide consumption of STPP was estimated to be approximately 2,000,000 tonnes. Because it is very water-soluble, it is not significantly transferred to sewage sludge, and therefore to soil by sludge spreading. No environmental risk related to STPP use in detergents is indicated in soil or air. As an ingredient of household cleaning products, STPP present in domestic waste waters is mainly discharged to the aquatic compartment, directly, via waste water treatment plants, via septic tanks, infiltration or other autonomous waste water systems. As STPP is an inorganic substance, biodegradation studies are not applicable.
Phosphorus can theoretically generate its weight 500 times in algae. Whereas the primary production in marine waters is mainly nitrogen limited, freshwaters are considered to be phosphorus limited. A large part of the sewage effluents in many countries is released untreated into freshwater recipients, and here the use of phosphorus as complexing agents is still an environmental concern, ecological problems with the damage to lakes and rivers through eutrophication (that green water you see so much of.)
And this is what we are eating. . . . .